Tuesday, August 13, 2013

S2 E20 - Countdown

Once again the episode begins at or near the end with the mission that the episode will be about.  But seeing Dixon there with a bomb ultimately tells me that he is not handling the death of Diane very well. He is threatening the unknown bad guy and telling him that he has nothing to lose, Sydney is there trying to talk Dixon down and Vaughn has just been given the order to shot Dixon before they all end up dead by means of the bomb.
It looks like we have to wait a little while to see if Vaughn will actually take the shot or not, because we are back in LA and its 72 hours earlier.  We are at Diane’s wake at Dixon’s home.  It looks like Dixon Is barely holding himself together, then having to comfort others is never easy.  Vaughn, Sydney and Marshall are all speaking in a corner, but Sydney is mostly watching Dixon and it seems like she wants to do more to help. You could almost start crying with the music playing and seeing Dixon comforting his daughter. Dixon tries to get away from everything and goes into a bedroom, he thinks for a moment and then goes and gets a bottle of pills and takes a few out and swallows them.  The problem with that, they were definitely in a pharmacy bottle, so it wasn’t something you can get over the counter and Vaughn had just walked in and watched the whole scene take place.  I am guessing that with their jobs and the responsibility that comes along with it, taking drugs isn’t looked upon kindly.
 Back at Sydney’s apartment, Vaughn is helping Sydney out of her dress and tells her that he saw Dixon take something, Sydney asks him what he means and he tells her pills, and that it looked as if he was barely holding it together.  Sydney tells him that it could’ve been aspirin.  Vaughn tells her very confidently that it was not aspirin.  Sydney is now curious; she wants to know what Vaughn is getting at.  He tells her that Dixon is going back to work days after his wife was murdered and he’s self-medicating.  Sydney is cautious about how to approach this with Vaughn.  She tells him that she thinks that Dixon needs to feel like he is doing everything that he can.  Vaughn asks if she means to find Sloane.  Hesitant again, Sydney tells him that she had the same problem after Danny.  You can tell that now that she and Vaughn are together, even though Danny’s death is the catalyst that brought them together it’s not a happy thought for either of them.  Vaughn’s silence at this statement confirms my thought pattern.
 In the Rotunda conference room Jack introduces a new face, NSA director Brandon who has brought a special research agent along with him Carrie Bowman; they will be looking into Rambaldi’s work a little closer at the CIA command center that our favorite people work at.    Marshall is a little taken with Ms. Bowman, we see him speechless for the first time.  But during this briefing we find out that before Irina took off with the Rambaldi manuscript when she fled, Marshall had made copies of all the pages so they could still be referenced. The pages held a DNA code for a man that is alive today and living in Panama City; Vaughn found this to be very disturbing.  But his DNA is also a decryption code for page 94 of the manuscript. (in case you are wondering why it wasn’t page 47, 94 divided by 2 is 47.)  Page 94 one decrypted showed the dates and times marking an apocalyptic event; Napoleon’s bloodiest battle, the catalyst that began WWI, Hiroshima, as well as many others.  I think that out of everyone in the room Vaughn is the one who thinks this is beyond ridiculous.  Personally for Vaughn I think that he doesn’t want to believe in Rambaldi’s prophecies because then he would have to believe that Sydney is the chosen one and he is not going to believe that.  He knows that he has to take it serious, but you can tell that Rambaldi is screwing with his life again has him incredibly annoyed.  Sydney does ask the question if a future date is listed as well and Brandon tells her that yes, and it just so happens to be in 48 hours.  The page doesn’t give a prediction just a date and time. 

 Back at the Rotunda Vaughn approaches Jack and tells him that he has a request concerning Dixon.  He tells Jack that he knows that Dixon has been through a lot, but Vaughn believe that until he has had a Psych evaluation and has been cleared by medical services, it is in Dixon’s best interest as well as theirs they Dixon be removed from field duty.  They had been walking during this speech, but at this Jack does stop and turn around to face Vaughn.  Jack tells Vaughn that he has worked with Dixon for over twelve years and Vaughn has worked with him for a little over a month, Jack feels he knows him well enough that if Dixon says he can be in the field, Jack will respect his wishes.  Vaughn wonders that with where Dixon’s head is right now if Dixon can really be making these types of decisions right now. Jack flat out tells him that yes, Dixon can make that decision.  Vaughn wonders why Jack is fighting him on this.  Jack makes it clear that he doesn’t need to justify his decisions with him, but he does go on.  He tells Vaughn that he was the one who recruited Dixon into SD-6 and sold him the lie that he led for so long, as well as introducing him to the man that killed his wife, so Jack is not going to be the one who tells Dixon that he can’t assist in Sloane’s capture.  Vaughn is not happy with this response, but isn’t sure what to do next.  I am sure that if Vaughn shared his knowledge of the pills with Jack, there may have been a different response since Jack’s number one concern lines up with Vaughn’s and that is Sydney’s safety.  But Vaughn isn’t ready to get Dixon in trouble with all that he is already dealing with.  Not an easy road for Vaughn right now, there is no easy answer.
After what I assume was an hard internal struggle Vaughn sits down at his desk, takes a deep breath and calls Dr. Barnett and ask if she has a few moments, because there is something that he would like to discuss with her.
 After a mission in Panama City to find only a dead Di Regno with a stolen heart, Sydney and Dixon are able to find Vargas the man who stole the heart, Sydney had him cornered with her own sword and was interrogating him, he didn’t speak right away, but it looked as though he was ready to start talking.  But before he could Dixon came in and starting breaking bones in his hand, wrist and arm.  Vargas tells them that it wasn’t a heart that he stole out of Di Regno, but a machine where his heart should have been and that it is already on a truck.  Dixon then asks him if that is where Sloane is, and when Vargas does not answer Dixon kicks him in the face. Dixon continues to interrogate Vargas very violently about Sloane and how Vargas was paid.  You can see that Sydney is very uncomfortable with this, but she doesn’t say anything.  Finally when she can tell that Vargas has no more to say and Dixon is still attacking she yells his name a few times trying to get him to stop. She is a little mortified that he was capable of something like this.  She thought that she knew Dixon and is a little scared for him right now.
Upon returning to LA Dixon is being seen by Dr. Barnett.  It looks like Vaughn’s decision was to go over Jack’s head and tell the shrink his concerns and after what happened with Dixon and Vargas; I think Vaughn is correct in being concerned.

After his meeting with Barnett, Dixon goes up to Sydney and asked her if she told Barnett that he wasn’t fit for field duty, she immediately tells him that she didn’t, he goes on to say so you didn’t put in a request for me to undergo and evaluation.  She again repeats herself that she promises him, no she didn’t.  He relaxes a little and sits down next to her and tells her that someone did and that he has been ordered to medical services for a drug test.  He leans back and shakes his head; she then states that he is worried.  He tells her that he has been taking Vicodin; he also tells her that he has stopped, and has thrown them away, but they will still show on a drug test. Dixon is concerned that he is going to get suspended.  Sydney is flustered and doesn’t know what to tell him.
Later when Vaughn comes to tell Sydney about the truck being getting an ID on the truck holding the mechanical heart, Sydney has no desire to talk about it; she begins to interrogate Vaughn about turning Dixon into Barnett about taking pills.  He looks right at her, knowing that he’s in trouble and tells her yes.  She asks him to come with her and they go into their flirting corner, on the way in Vaughn rolls his eyes a little he knows how she can get when she is upset, he’s been on the wrong side of her before.  But going into this fight, their first official fight that we have seen, you can tell that it will be different than others that they have had.  Sydney tells him that he should have called her first, she is upset, she knows where Dixon’s head is right now and feels defensive over him. Vaughn is very nice to her, but very matter of fact here as well, he tells her; “Well, I’m sorry I didn’t, but I don’t need your permission to do my job.”  Sydney then asks him why he would go out of his way to make things harder for him. Vaughn tells her that he is actually trying to protect Dixon as well as Sydney.  He also tells her that if Dixon makes one mistake out there it could get her killed.  She tells him that Dixon has saved her life more times than she can count. He reminds her that he nearly beat a man to death; she defends his actions by saying that he got them their only lead on the Di Regno heart.  Vaughn takes a beat and tells Sydney that he gets it that they both have a personal stake in catching Sloane, but he also knows that it can cloud her judgment.  She tells him that it makes her crazy when he patronizes her.  Although I think she knows that he isn’t, after hearing that Dixon did take some drugs she knows that Vaughn is right.  But I think that she is reliving her first few days after learning of Danny’s death, only at that time she thought it was her own fault.  Now she can fight a death manufactured by the same man and feel justified herself.  Vaughn looks at her and tells her; “Alright, look this conversation’s over, I stand by my decision." He looks at her once more and walks away, leaving her looking almost ashamed.
When I first talked about the way that they fight even being perfect, this was the exact scene that I was talking about. Yes, they talked over each other, but there was no yelling, there was no talking down at the other, and nobody played dirty.  They both said what they needed to say, and now that Vaughn knows Sydney a little better than just seeing each other in the storage unit for the most part.  He understands what makes her tick.  He knows that she is aware of what is at stake, and that he knows what he is doing.  He knew that she mostly needed time to calm down.  So after both of them stating what they had to say, he knew that walking away was what was best for her and for them in general.  Vaughn and Sydney both fought well here.  Sydney didn’t pull out any remarks that she knew she would later regret, which has been known to happen, and Vaughn stood his ground and essentially told her that nothing she says is going to change my mind, but let’s not let this ruin what we have, so I’m done talking about it, cool down and I’ll see you later.  If you have to fight, they did it perfect there.
Then to top it all off later that night at Sydney’s apartment Vaughn comes over and Sydney is relieved to see him, but the first thing he says is that he is sorry, and that she caught him off guard.  She immediately tells him that she is the one who is sorry; she knows that he is only looking out for her and for Dixon. Vaughn then tells her that she was right and Dixon’s test came back negative, and that it must have been aspirin.   Sydney looks shocked for a moment and then immediately hides it with a smile. Vaughn asks her if they are okay, she smiles at him and tells him yeah and they hug.  Vaughn looks incredibly happy having already made up from their first fight as a couple, but Sydney is definitely not happy, but it is not directed at Vaughn this time.
Sydney is not happy with Dixon and she goes to confront him about it. Sydney tells him that she has been called in to talk with Barnett as well.  At this point Dixon starts telling her that if they find out he doctored the tests he’ll never work for the government again and how will he support his kids, he breaks down and tells her that he doesn’t know how to go on without Diane.  He is basically asking her to lie for him now that he has made a mistake.  She isn’t sure what to do, and tells him that she has to go. 

 In Barnett’s office Sydney is asked if there is anything that Barnett should know since Sydney is the one who knows him the best.  Sydney tells her; “Marcus Dixon is one of the strongest people I’ve ever known, I trust him with my life without hesitation. And I am confident, despite the agony he’s feeling right now, he will pull through this.”  While Sydney is telling this to Barnett we watch as Dixon drives up on a bridge and stops in the middle, gets out, climbs over the fence and positions himself to jump off.
The next morning Sydney meets up with Vaughn in the Rotunda and he tells her where the truck is heading.  Sydney asks about Dixon, and Vaughn tells her that he left a message with him after he talked to her, but he hasn’t heard back from him.  Jack and Brandon go over the details of the mission and as they are leaving Dixon shows up, Dixon asks Vaughn for a moment with Sydney.  Once Vaughn is gone, Dixon thanks her for not saying anything.  Sydney is still not happy with Dixon and his actions and she lets him know it with her aggressive stance as well as telling him that it wasn’t just Barnett, but she lied to Vaughn.  She tells him that she needs for him to look her in the eye and promise him that he can handle this, he does and she relaxes and tells him lets go.
In Cartagena Sydney and Dixon are partnered together securing the truck on a freight yard, and Vaughn is in charge of Delta force behind them.  We have made it back to the beginning of the episode.   When Dixon and Sydney find that the truck they have been tracking doesn’t have the heart, they start searching all over the yard.  Back at base ops Brandon wants them to move to the secondary protocol which is get out and blow up the whole yard destroying the heart.  Jack tells him to give Sydney a chance, but tells Vaughn to get his team moving.  Dixon does find a man in the yard that obviously knows something and he starts interrogating him. And after kicking him around doesn’t give Dixon the results he wants, he pulls out a package of C4 with a timer clicking away with only 30 seconds on it.  Sydney is begging him to stop, Brandon orders Vaughn to take the shot, Jack reminds him that Dixon could be holding it so once he lets it will explode.  Upon hearing that Vaughn is hesitant to follow orders seeing how close Sydney is to the situation.  Finally the man tells them where the heart is, but Dixon allows the timer to keep going.  It gets to zero and nothing happens, he tells them that he isn’t that desperate and that he cut the detonator.  They find the device and as they do Brandon tells Jack that they have two minutes until the predicted time.
At this point I should bring up that Sloane went on a quest to find a Rambaldi scholar that introduced him to Rambaldi 30 years ago.  This Scholar, Conrad, told Sloane that Emily had to die for Rambaldi’s works to continue and for Sloane to receive the next step in his journey to Rambaldi’s end game.

We go back to the team with the heart and they have confirmed that the box does not contain any known destruction materials.  Jack looks at the clock and tells them to open the box.  There is 20 seconds left on the countdown to Rambaldi’s predicted time.
We then go back to Sloane where Conrad is handing him a scroll of parchment. As Sloane receives it, the clock runs out on the predicted time.  So whatever apocalyptic event that Rambaldi predicted, the beginning of it starts with Sloane learning something from that scroll.  Conrad tells him now he understands that his journey has just begun.

After all the craziness has died down and they are back in LA, Sydney and Vaughn are on a date, sitting on a park bench enjoying Ice cream together.  Vaughn asks Sydney if he can have a bite of her ice cream and she gives him one and smiles, but then goes back to being contemplative. Vaughn can tell that she is worried, so he tells her that Dixon will be okay, that since he turned himself in, and personal thinks that is just as important.  Sydney smiles at him, almost thanking him for trying, but that wasn’t what she was thinking about.  She goes quiet for a minute and then tells him, “Vaughn, I knew what he did. I knew that he changed his results. And I didn’t say anything to Barnett. Or you.” She pauses for a moment and you can see that Vaughn is hurt by this, but he isn’t sure what he should say. So she goes on; “You know this, but my parents were absent when I was growing up. I never had anyone to disappoint. That’s different now. I’m sorry.”  Vaughn’s face is still a little muted, but he ends up with a small smile and feeds her a bite of his ice cream. She takes it and smiles back at him. His grin has now grown as did hers after seeing his.  He stands up and takes her by the hand.  She stands and they start walking away with his arm around her.
When I look at the big picture with this episode, it’s not one of my favorites, but it is necessary to show that Sydney and Vaughn depend on each other now more than ever.  We see that they are built to stand the test of time.  The first fight was successful, the first major difference in opinion in the workplace they were able to overcome, and they have now both lied to the other, and it didn’t tear them apart.   We see that even when they are mad at each other, their main concern is with each other.  All of Vaughn’s actions were to keep Sydney safe whether she liked it or not.  He did not want her to be alone on a mission with Dixon being on medication or impaired in any way including letting his anger get the best of him. Then when Sydney was talking with Dixon, she knew that it was Vaughn that turned him in, but she didn’t say anything to Dixon, because she knew that after watching Dixon with Vargas, she didn’t want any of that aggression going to Vaughn.  They really do care for one another and you can see that they are in love, even if they haven’t said it yet.

  • Items that I found noteworthy…
    • Carrie also has a fondness for Marshall, they shared quite a nice moment together and she asked him to join her for Sushi if they ended up surviving the next 36 hours. 
    • This will not be the last time that Sydney has to watch someone that she thought she knew to have control over themselves when it comes to interrogation skills, not be able to control themselves after they were betrayed. 
    • Sydney and Vaughn have been to Cartagena together, even if he forgets later on.  Something I will forgive him for since they weren’t partners there and Vaughn had been through some pretty bad stuff between now and when he said that they had never been. Plus I think the new writers forgot to do some research.


  1. No, it's not one of my favorite episodes either yet it showed us the type of couple Syd and Vaughn are and the extent of Vaughn's devotion to her. He is very sorry for Dixon but will not tolerate him endangering Sydney's life by his drug use
    He admitted reporting him and stood by his decision because Syd is his main priority. But because he didnt want Syd to remain cross with him so he apologised and Syd, not wanting to remain angry accepted
    And in return, since she trusts only him and vice versa, she told him about the Vidocin. He is angry and hurt she lied to him but thanks to the music playing in the background as they sit on the bench, we know what Vaughn's thinking. His love for Syd is stronger than his anger and their love is far more important than anything or anyone. And they dont even need to say actual words of affection; did we hear him say I LOVE YOU to her and vice versa throughout Season 2? Just as he doesnt need to say, I FORGIVE YOU or IT'S OKAY when she admitted she lied to him, simply slipping the spoon of ice cream was more than enough. And the final shot of them walking away smiling at each other and Vaughn's arm round Syd was so sweet. I feel it signified what they will be now that they are officially a couple; they would disagree, amend it then move on. Actions speak louder than words for this couple. ♥♥♥

    1. You hit right on it, their devotion to one another is amazing. When Vaughn apologizes, I don't think that he's apologizing for turning Dixon in, but more because he didn't let her know he did it, to give her the warning. Plus it's an apology for their fight. But one thing that I love about Sydney and Vaughn is how they are able to stand their ground with each other and that they can have differing opinions, but still be a strong couple.

      With the final scene, just the title of the song says it all, You're All I Need to Get By. For Sydney and Vaughn they definately have a relationship where actions speak louder than words. Which I think is huge for them. They lie for a living, so sometimes words aren't what they need, they need to see the actions.

      As far the I love you question, the first time Vaughn actually says "I love you" to Sydney isn't until season 4, episode 14 Nightingale. Sydney doesn't say it directly to him until Season 4, episode 22 Before the Flood. But it is inferred many times and they both have talked about loving the other. The first time love is mentioned for the relationship is in season 2, episode 17 A Dark Turn. After being asked to spy on Vaughn, and goes back to counter-intelligence with out the info they requested, Sydney tells him, " Ask yourself, "Would you betray someone you love?" " So Sydney is the first to admit to another person that she loves Vaughn. For Vaughn, we don't hear him say the word love until season 3, episode 2 Succession. When Sydney goes to Vaughn's classroom to apologize and tell him that he can come back to the CIA without worrying about her. Among the other things he says to her he does say, "I was so in love with you, it nearly killed me." (Maybe I should do a post just on this topic...)

      On a side note, it is kind of hard to focus on the Sydney / Vaughn aspect when I saw and spoke with Michael Vartan in person today. He is so sweet and genuine I couldn't believe it. Truly the nicest guy in Hollywood as far as I'm concerned. :)

    2. So you met Michael Vartan in person; I am SO jealous! How exciting for you :-D I am happy to hear he is a nice person & he was pleasant to you. I like him and his acting and to think I didnt pay that much attention to him when I first saw him in Season 4 of FRIENDS or that movie he did with Jennifer Lopez, MONSTER IN LAW. When I see him in ALIAS, I sense gentleness in his eyes. If you ever get to talk to him again, let him know a fan from Nigeria sends him a shout out! :-D

    3. I did meet him, it was an amazing day! I'm not sure if I will meet him again, although I am already planning on attending the same event next year, so maybe I'll see him next year. I have a lot of pictures, and some video. My next post on here will be all about yesterday and all the details.